Sobering Truths About St. Patrick’s Day

March 14, 2024

A guest blog by Hailey Kanipe, MPH, CPS, ICPS, Prevention Specialist and Samantha Maroney, LRADAC Prevention Intern

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day Safely

What is the first thing that usually comes to mind when you think about celebrations happening in March? Saint Patrick’s Day!

For over a thousand years now, St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated on March 17th, the anniversary of the death of Saint Patrick. St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in Ireland in 1631 with religious celebrations and feasts to celebrate the life of Saint Patrick, a formerly enslaved Roman who became a priest and was credited with converting many Celtic men to Christianity. St. Patrick’s Day was first observed in the United States in 1737 when The Charitable Irish Society of Boston gathered to honor their homeland, worship, and enjoy dinner together. Over the years, St. Patrick’s Day has become associated with the four-leaf clover, the color green, being an Irish descendant, leprechauns, and drinking alcohol.

While it is fun to celebrate with friends and family, the statistics associated with death and injury on St. Patrick’s Day are alarming. It is estimated that one drunk driving death occurs every 30 minutes during St. Patrick’s Day. Over the holiday weekend in 2019, statistics show that 63% of car-related fatalities involved drunk drivers. Between 2016 and 2020, 287 lives were lost in the United States due to drunk-driving-related crashes during St. Patrick’s Day. The statistics don’t lie! The culture of binge drinking during St. Patrick’s Day does increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and death during the holiday.

Suppose a person is celebrating recovery from a substance use disorder. In that case, celebrations like St. Patrick’s Day can be very challenging as they try and avoid situations that may put them at risk for relapse. People in recovery must contact a mentor, sponsor, or someone they can trust for holiday advice and guidance. Finding new ways to celebrate that don’t involve drinking can be fun. For St. Patrick’s Day, you might learn to make an Irish meal, study old Irish traditions, or read traditional Irish blessings. You may also consider skipping the holiday altogether and instead taking a short trip or gathering with friends and family who plan to stay sober.

If you are not in recovery and still plan to go out during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, be mindful of some ways to stay safe while having fun.

5 tips to enjoy st. patricks day safely

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, please get in touch with LRADAC for more information.

LRADAC is the designated alcohol abuse and drug abuse authority for Lexington and Richland Counties of South Carolina. The public, not-for-profit agency offers a wide array of prevention, intervention and treatment programs in locations convenient to residents of both counties. The agency has a budget of approximately $10 million and serves more than 5,000 clients per year.